Russian scientists' expedition on Lake Baikal came to a conclusion that poaching for seal pups has led to gradual aging of the seal population. The expedition of Russian Geographical Society and Fund for Protection of Lake Baikal lasted for two weeks, which aimed to study the local seal population, RIA Novosti news agency reported recently.
There are between 50 and 100 thousand seals in the area, according to different sources.
After meeting with specialists, environmentalists, national park workers and poachers, the scientists reached a preliminary conclusion that poaching had increased. Seal pups born from February to April usually fall prey to the poachers.
The destruction of seal pups leads to the aging of Baikal seal population. In a few years the population is expected to decline sharply.
However, annual monitoring by Russian State Fish Center did not show that the seal population may decline soon.
Following the expedition scientists will make a video film about Baikal seals and prepare a photo exhibition. Seal research and preservation will continue.